We won’t know what they’ll be until we see the climate policies Obama says will be announced next month, but at this point, there’s a bit of a “Look! Over there!” feel to the administration’s refusal to talk about KXL, TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. That’s along with a whiff of a “trade-off,” something like, “I’m going to do some things you will really like but let KXL be completed, so let’s call it even, okay?” At the same time, opposition to KXL, and other such pipelines, is growing, with specific actions announced today related to the southern section of Keystone, as multiple “anomalies” are discovered in the already completed sections of the pipeline, which TransCanada is now digging up and replacing.
From a Bloomberg report: (emphasis added throughout)
With his administration under pressure from environmentalists to reject the Keystone XL pipeline project, President Barack Obama plans to unveil a package of separate actions next month focused on curbing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. …
Speaking to donors in Palo Alto, California last week, Obama called the need for action on climate change one of the ‘most important decisions’ facing the country.
So if he believes that to be true, why the refusal to stop KXL? He’s getting pressure not just from environmental activists, but from major donors.
With Congress unlikely to take up a climate bill, the plans largely focus on actions the president can take with his existing executive authority. Internally, White House officials have been soliciting ideas for administrative actions that can be taken to curb greenhouse gases.
(An aside: why are “executive” actions regarding the environment okay, but regarding promised employment protections based on gender identity and orientation, for federal contract employees, refused?)
Okay, back to the Bloomberg story:
The environmental community has mobilized in opposition to the project, which has become a test of the president’s commitment to curbing climate change
The president still has time to pass the test, sort of. The destruction to property along the southern section is significant, and with construction almost completed, I think Obama will be given a failing grade for his decision to hurry up this Oklahoma / Texas segment. And as I’ve written many times, with the southern section almost done, I think it’s highly unlikely the northern section won’t be built as well. It may be, though, that since TransCanada has to dig up and replace pipe with “anomalies” even before they’ve actually finished the first step of the project, the northern section will be delayed.
Some analysis by Darren Goode, at Politico:
… (S)ome climate donors and strategists say administration officials are still hedging at the timing (of the announced climate policies), and especially the details of what would be rolled out. …
One thing the donors aren’t expecting … is any attempt to pair the climate announcements with the administration’s upcoming decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that climate activists urgently want Obama to reject.
In fact, some environmental leaders and big-time green donors have made it clear they won’t accept any quid pro quo in which action on climate change would supposedly make up for the impact of approving Keystone.
Meanwhile, for those living along the KXL pipeline, construction (and reconstruction) continue. From Stefanie Spear at EcoWatch:
Last month, it was reported that TransCanada was in damage control mode concerning flaws in the newly laid southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline after dozens of anomalies, including dents and welds, were identified along a 60-mile stretch north of the Sabine River in Texas.
Now Texas and Oklahoma residents are even more outraged with the news of the pipeline anomalies and the ExxonMobil Pegasus pipeline rupture on March 29 that spewed Canadian tar sands oil in a suburban community in Mayflower, AR, where residents are still complaining of health problems and the impact on wildlife and the environment. …
Landowners Against TransCanada have created a petition calling on the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to “Immediately Investigate Anomalies in the Southern Leg of TransCanada’s Keystone XL” at EcoWatch.
PHMSA’s mission is to protect people and the environment from the risks of hazardous materials transportation. … PHMSA is failing to fulfill its responsibilities in regards to TransCanada’s southern segment of the Keystone XL pipeline.
You can see a video of multiple sections of the pipes removed because of “anomalies” at the link.
The video clearly shows that this is a bigger problem than what the TransCanada propaganda machine is saying publicly. …
My sources tell me that the so called ‘anomalies’ total over a mile in a short, 60-mile section of north Texas including Wood County. Additionally, it is apparent that inspector oversight during the welding process, as well as deficiencies in the trenching and laying of the pipe, occurred.
By the way, about the March 29th ExxonMobil spill of tar sands heavy crude from the Pegasus Pipeline (built in the 1940s) this update: Feds, State File Lawsuit Against ExxonMobil over Tar Sands Oil Spill in Mayflower, AR.
The oil spilled directly into the neighborhood and then into nearby waterways, including a creek, wetlands and Lake Conway. Residents were forced to evacuate their homes due to the hazardous conditions in the neighborhood resulting from the spill. The oil has contaminated land and waterways and impacted human health and welfare, wildlife and habitat. Cleanup efforts are still ongoing, and many residents still have not been able to return home.
So, if your backyard happens to be along the KXL, or other pipeline, completed or under construction, it’s not at all clear what protections you have, legally or practically (as in how well made / maintained the pipeline is). But if it helps, you can know climate policies are coming and this administration sees it all as one of the ‘most important decisions’ it will make. Some day. About some things yet to be identified.
(Keystone Construction Capture Via You Tube EcoWatch)